As many of you know, teachers can plan, assign, assess, report, and more using Kiddom, available via desktop, Apple, and as of earlier this year, Google Play.
But there’s more to our Android product than you might think. This week, we had a chat with Kiddom’s Mobile Engineering Lead, Guillermo Alcantara, to tell us what makes the Android product special.
So, what is unique about Kiddom Android compared to other versions of the product?
Guillermo: If you’re using Kiddom on Android you’ll find it is more similar to the web experience than our iPhone app, which often has a different interface, than what you might see online. That’s because we’ve created more custom widgets for iOS, whereas with Android we’re building more for Google’s vision. In other words, because Android’s store is owned by Google, the Android mobile product is more optimized for Google standards.
Kiddom on Android is also more performant; we’ve put more emphasis on making the product work in varied conditions. For instance, if your network is slow or your screen is small, the Android product can be handy in those situations… we have built it from the start with attention to limitations like internet speed, battery life, and smaller screens. Our Apple product, on the other hand, is a more optimized experience for newer Apple devices, in keeping with iOS protocol.
A third uniqueness about our Android product is the ability to be easily translated, which is on our roadmap to release soon. It’s not something we have prioritized, but the entire app is ready to be translated — as many of our users are Spanish-speaking, and we know that could help a lot of schools.
Speaking of what’s “on the roadmap,” can you tell us more about what is coming soon for Kiddom’s Android product?
Guillermo: Soon we’ll be able to offer a translatable version of Spanish and Chinese. Many developers are familiar with FIGS (French, Italian, German, and Spanish), which is perhaps a traditional approach to translate, but we’ll likely make our earliest translations in Spanish and Chinese.
We are also constantly using our Android app to run tests that help foster a better user experience, so often those roadmap features show up on Android first. Like the Snapshot Roster feature, and the ability to take notes, for instance.
Can you speak more on the Snapshot Roster feature?
Guillermo: One feature we’re excited about releasing soon is the ability to add students on mobile in a quick and easy manner. Teachers can simply use their phones to take a snapshot of their student roster, whether digital or in print, and from that list, our product creates a new account for each student using text recognition technology called OCR (Optical Character Recognition). This will save teachers a great deal of time when they need to add a new class or want to switch over to Kiddom in the middle of a semester.
…and the Notes feature?
Guillermo: Yes, it provides users the ability to make notes. This feature was first available only in Android and we hope to soon make it available to everyone. That’s because we typically use Android to test new features. If we see that enough people are using the features we’re testing, we’ll roll them out to all of our products for everyone to use.
Can you tell us about the Student Groups Feature in Android?
Guillermo: Student groups — right now Kiddom assignments are only available for the entire class or one individual student, but what if you have a team assignment? This is a feature being testing in Android right now.
In closing, can you share what is your favorite part about the Android app?
Guillermo: I like the Timeline better in Android than in any other client. It’s easier to swipe rather than scroll.
…and that’s all he had time for! (Engineers are busy people, you know.) We hope you learned something new and useful, and as always, teachers, please let us know your thoughts and requests! We are building these products for you. ❤
For more information on Kiddom Android, visit our Support Page, or you can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Personalized learning is a buzz phrase we hear often in education. This pedagogical style is inspirational, and may serve students well, but it often lacks direction.
Many professional development sessions begin with: “Let’s define personalized learning,” because the term is thrown around so often. At Kiddom, we’ve had the privilege to witness many excellent strides toward personalized learning in different environments, but many haven’t yet seen it in practice. So how does an administrator or community measure the pursuit of this practice without knowing exactly how it looks or where to focus their efforts to improve?
In mastery-based classrooms, students become better advocates of their learning when they know where they excel and where they need to improve. The ability to measure performance in a focus area and put that information to practice generally empowers most students to achieve their learning goals. Schools and districts are no different.
For those systems working to offer more opportunities to personalize learning for students, visibility on success metrics makes all the difference in their own instructional growth and professional development. That’s where Kiddom comes in, and we are delighted to announce a new partnership that makes it easier than ever for districts and schools to quantify their personalized learning initiatives.
Kiddom provides both, a team dedicated to your success and a platform for personalized learning, so you have a direct pathway to monitor instructional change within your community. And now Kiddom has partnered with Education Elements to provide an Onpoint score for your personalized learning journey.
What is an Onpoint Score? A “credit score” for personalized learning, Onpoint provides the framework and metrics to help learning communities focus their individualization efforts, including curriculum and instruction, support, culture of innovation, strategy, and so much more.
Providing schools a focused plan to implement personalized learning is what we are most excited about, as many of Kiddom’s educator communities use our school operating system for this very reason. Kiddom’s early adopter program offers benefits to new schools and districts that adopt Kiddom, including training, a personal success specialist, membership to Kiddom’sEducator Brain Trust, and the newest addition, Education Elements’ Onpoint score for personalized learning.
The ability to give individualized support to every student, with wide ranges of needs, abilities, and interests, is an amazing and critical feat to accomplish. With Kiddom’s tools and Education Elements’ reports, schools and districts are better equipped than ever to quantify their own success. They now have the knowledge to target their efforts in supporting both teachers and admin as they cultivate a personalized learning experience for students.
Interested to learn more about what Kiddom offers schools and districts? Let’s set up a time for a walk through!
Nearly ten years ago, I started my career in education as a math teacher at a new alternative high school serving over-age, under-credited youth in New York City. My students were labeled “at-risk” of dropping out because they were 16–21 years old and previously unsuccessful in high school. Many suffered from chronic absenteeism, caused by factors such as homelessness, family responsibilities, and/or incarceration. If we, the educators, were going to serve our students well, we were going to have to get pedagogically creative.
One of the first curricular tools I built to share — on the first day of school — was a public, student-friendly gradebook on Google Sheets. (Yes, this was before Google Classroom existed!) Students could track their progress and identify which skills needed extra work at any time. Little did I know this experience would eventually propel me to help develop a school operating system that tackles technology issues plaguing educators and supports them with more opportunities to offer individualized instruction.
Creating a Toolbox — and Filling It
After creating the gradebook, my colleague and I developed a curriculum aligned to New York state math standards. We scoped and sequenced the curriculum according to a set of power standards representing scaffolded skills. If students mastered a power standard, they could move on and didn’t need to wait for others. This competency-based system made sense; if students were chronically absent, holding them accountable to a pacing calendar would prove futile.
To supplement in-person support offered during class and lunch periods, I published a simple Google site to house my lessons, assessments, and other resources. If students missed class or needed additional help, they could go to my website and access the day’s lesson as well as videos and digital exercises from YouTube and Khan Academy.
As my students submitted work, I tracked everything in my gradebook. My goal was to minimize the information asymmetry that tends to exist between what teachers know about their students and what students know about their performance. At the time, I had no idea this system was called “standards-based grading.” I was so green at this point in my career that I probably assumed every classroom in the 21st century operated this way. I didn’t realize what we were trying to build was innovative.
The following year, I wanted to ensure that when students did come to class, they could participate and engage — or at the very minimum — access the content via a class set of iPads. I stepped up my game by adding even more videos and assessment exercises to my class website, mining resources from IXL and CK-12. I generated logins for my students and started “blending” instruction using the free content from these publishers. This worked nicely for my students, who felt like I was carefully attending to their learning pace and providing them with targeted learning materials.
By the end of year, more than half of my students passed the Algebra 1 state exam. For context: in years prior, every one of these students had failed this exam at least once. Of those who failed again this time around, many had never come so close to passing and looked forward to retaking it in the summer.
Enter the LMS
I was proud, but also exhausted. The time required to maintain the number of tools I was juggling was eerily close to the time I used to spend working as an investment banker. I dedicated hours every week copy-pasting student achievement data from multiple systems into one gradebook, analyzing each student’s progress and assigning work based on need. The last thing I needed was another system to maintain, but that’s exactly how my third teaching year started: my school administration decided a centralized system for grades was necessary to assess how all classrooms were doing. They bought a learning management system (LMS) and asked us to start using it.
Procuring the LMS was purely an administrative decision, fueled by a desire to monitor school-wide trends to make resource allocation decisions. I couldn’t fault school leadership for this, but I still hated using it. I didn’t want to change the way I’d set up my class because my model working for my students. Now, in addition to importing data from IXL, Khan Academy, and an adaptive learning program called Carnegie Learning, I had to transfer the achievement data from my gradebook into another system. It felt like every tool I used in the classroom was inherently designed to work in isolation.
By the end of that year, my patience had grown thin. I stopped updating the LMS on a regular basis and wondered how long it would take before somebody noticed. My colleagues had mixed feelings about it too. Because the LMS was designed to contain a lot of tools for teachers in a single view, it was clunky and cumbersome to use. For example, it didn’t integrate with Google Apps, which we had spent the last three years using. Nor could I customize features to align with my class set-up, or remove certain features altogether.
Building and Brainstorming
After three more years teaching in alternative high schools, I left the classroom to join Kiddom and address this interoperability problem. In an ideal world, teachers would be able to access a set of tools driven by their classroom needs and aligned to an instructional model of their choice. Administrators would be able to measure and take action from macro-level trends, manage and review curriculum, and enable educators to incorporate the instructional models and technologies that serve their classrooms best.
Unfortunately, teachers are constrained by tools that are ineffective or redundant. Many education technologies are not interoperable. School and district leaders continue to spend an inordinate amount of time piecing together data to understand what’s really happening. When that takes too long or doesn’t work, they resort to classroom observations — because they’re easy to do.
During my time at Kiddom, I’ve had the opportunity to apply my teaching experience and work with a team of designers and developers to tackle these problems head-on. At first, we focused on teachers and learners and the tools needed to enhance a singular classroom experience; this led to a simple, visual standards-aligned gradebook. Next, we connected this gradebook directly to digital content publishers like CK-12 and Khan Academy so that teachers could access teaching resources in order to differentiate instruction efficiently and save time.
Because every classroom experience plays a role in the larger ecosystem within a school, we designed a set of collaboration tools to help teachers work together, share, and learn from each other more effectively. We then focused on the information asymmetry that exists between classrooms and their respective administrative bodies. Working with and listening closely to public school administrators, we brainstormed various ways we could support school systems from the top-down and bottom-up.
A K-12 School Operating System
The result of this work is Kiddom Academy, a K-12 school operating system supporting collaboration and individualized instruction. Using Academy, administrators can identify and act on aggregate achievement trends, manage curriculum and assessment, and efficiently integrate other tools they’ve come to rely on. They can set up frameworks for a range of pedagogies in line with their organizational goals. Classrooms gain access to a comprehensive library of standards-aligned resources and curriculum development tools. Beautiful, actionable reports help students, teachers, parents, and administrators monitor progress and take action.
Kiddom Academy, our K-12 school operating system for schools and districts
A K-12 school operating system is the next step in the evolution of education technology. Interoperability matters in schools and districts now more than it has ever before, because we’ve come expect it everywhere else. For example, I can purchase a pair of concert tickets using my EventBrite app, and then export the information directly into my iPhone calendar. So too should teachers be able to use a variety of learning apps in their classroom and expect them to work together seamlessly. As we see more content and pedagogy-specific tools in the market, we can expect increasing numbers of teachers to find and patch together the tools that work best for them; administrators will be no different.
My teaching experience helped me understand that I didn’t need to buy a blended learning or personalized learning product. I had a process and practice in place, and needed a set of interoperable tools. I can’t imagine how much more passion and creative energy I might have offered my students and colleagues if I wasn’t staying up late every night copying and pasting data to differentiate instruction. “Personalized learning” might be trendy, but it isn’t new. Teachers have been trying to enhance and individualize learning using the tools at their disposal for a long time.
That’s why at Kiddom, we’re hell bent on designing and implementing technology that enables all students to learn via pedagogy and pacing optimized for them. We’re betting big on the idea of building a system for other learning apps to run on — rather than in — to help schools plug and play the tools they find most effective. We can’t wait to see how schools will use Kiddom Academy to execute their vision for teaching and learning.
I am no stranger to educational technology. As a teacher for ten years, I was an evangelist for using technology in the classroom. I was an early adopter of Google Docs (and eventually Google Apps for Education) as well as an LMS that harnessed the power of online socializing and put it to use by creating a social, 24/7 environment for students to access content and lessons.
I am also very skeptical of most edtech companies: I wanted to utilize tech that helped my students and I knew that not every device, subscription, nor platform was relevant to my teaching style. I loved tech, but it had its time and place in my classroom.
In 2017, I entered the private sector of education and spent most of the year traveling across the United States working with teachers to support the integration of technology in their classrooms. I often came across the same tired, skeptical sentiment about edtech:
It seemed like a chore for teachers to adopt and use new technologies.
In many places, administrators were pushing new technology initiatives to an entire district, while not even being able to turn on a computer or log into accounts themselves and yet wanted every teacher to become experts. There was a completely understandable level of frustration and disillusionment coming from the teachers. Why were they expected to implement something when the people asking them to do it were not capable of also integrating it into their daily routines?
I have a lot of empathy for their plight. I too had been a victim of education’s awkward fascination of using tech for the sake of tech. Regularly, administrators brought the staff together to mandate new tools, whether or not they actually fit into the goals we had for our students. It was exhausting and demoralizing. I still tell stories about the time the teachers in my school were given iPads and told to use them but given no professional development or reason behind it. But hey, at least we could say our teachers all had iPads in their hands, right? (Oh and by the way, a year later, those same iPads were taken away and redistributed to an elementary school in the district because only a small fraction of our teachers were actually using them.)
I’m sure you are thinking: but Sarah, don’t you work for an edtech company? How can you still empathize with all the tech-tired teachers out there when you work for a company that is promoting tech use in classrooms?
The answer is simple: Kiddom believes in empowering teachers so that they can empower their students. Technology is meant to be relevant, meaningful, and helpful in the classroom. In keeping with my love of odd numbers, here are 5 reasons why I think Kiddom meets teacher needs.
One: Kiddom is free for individual teachers to use. That’s not going to change for anyone that decides to start using Kiddom in their classroom. That’s an amazing thing for teachers who are so used to testing out technology only to have it turn into a subscription-based, limited platform three weeks later.
Two: Kiddom gives teachers the ability to collaborate with each other more effectively and efficiently. Instead of endless lists of documents and exchanged emails, Kiddom provides teachers with a common place to house shared curriculum documents and lesson plans. It provides them a place to create lasting, meaningful content with each other, even if they aren’t in the same room.
Three: Access to high quality content. It takes a lot of time to curate resources for our students. During that time, we are often searching multiple websites, databases, and textbooks trying to find things that are suitable for our current students AND standards aligned. Kiddom understands that plight and wants to give your time back. We have a content library that is easily searchable based on your specific needs. Heck, it even provides you a one-stop-shop to search some of the most utilized resource subscriptions that you are used to using in your classroom (ex: Khan Academy, Newsela, IXL Math, Flocabulary, etc.)
Four: Google Drive integration. We understand that a lot of teachers have already integrated the G Suite apps into their classroom and are comfortable with using them with their students. With Kiddom, you don’t have to lose what you know — you can easily add assignments straight from your Google Drive account. The added benefit: we take Google and super power it with our awesome student analytics, mastery reports, and ability to assign and customize content to individual students instead of a one size-fits all assignment for the entire class.
But most importantly?
Five: Flexibility. We want you to use Kiddom the way it works for you and your students. If you just want a place to collaborate with your colleagues and share lesson plans together, then use Kiddom to do just that. If you want a more thorough and expansive ecosystem for your classroom or school (or district), we have you covered too. As a matter of fact, this summer we are launching a new pilot program that boasts comprehensive support, training, and resources. If you want to be an early adopter of our comprehensive school wide platform (and be privy to some bonus perks for being a part of our first group of Academy educators), set up a demo with us and we will be more than happy to have a one-on-one conference with you and your team.
This is the most passionate, teacher and student-centric group of human beings that I have come across in the edtech world and that is why joining the team at Kiddom was an absolute no brainer for me.
As technology continues to find its way into the classroom at a rapid pace, valid concerns from teachers continue to surface. Will educator responsibilities and/or impact be minimized? Will teachers no longer be needed? What parts of the job might be enhanced via technology? In fact, these questions have been raised by educators since the birth of education technology. With the transition to cloud-based technology becoming more widely accepted, many school and district administrators are feeling the same unease. How might technology enable more efficient resource allocation? How will these complex systems impact their jobs? How will machine learning and AI impact their schools and districts?
As we saw with the former, educators were able to start differentiating instruction more effectively as a result of some of these technological innovations. I believe the same will happen for the latter, as administrators evolve into true edtech coaches through K12 versus managing a rack of servers or blindly purchasing curriculum content for a district without being able to truly measure its efficacy. With device access having become more and more ubiquitous due to favorable technology and pricing trends, the foundation is set to truly differentiate and individualize all student learning pathways. Remember though that while technology is the vessel, instruction, curriculum, content and most importantly, collaboration are the key ingredients for student achievement.
Over the last 13 years, I was incredibly fortunate to be part of two generational and disruptive companies in Google and Dropbox. During my time at Google, I was lucky to have been part of a transformational time in the education world. In the K12 space for example, nobody expected the rapid success Chromebooks experienced, but it demonstrated what the right product, at the right time, for the right price point, could do to forever alter an industry. Dropbox was no different and provided the opportunity to fine tune a beloved consumer product, into a robust set of tools for global researchers across higher education.
During the last six months, I’ve had time off to think about the direction my career would take next. Over that time, I met with many amazing people across a variety of industries. Having that time is a luxury to discover what truly makes you tick. For me, seeing the way my seven year old son’s eyes lit up when he was reading My Weird School or Notebook of Doom, or watching a nature documentary, was the clearest sign I could get that I needed to be back in the world of K-12 education technology. The time seemed right to step out of my comfort zone and into a start-up, where I could influence product, marketing, and of course, revenue.
That led me to Kiddom. A serendipitous call with its CEO Ahsan Rizvi, and a follow up meeting in San Francisco with 25 truly dedicated and passionate people, had me sold. Hearing from the teachers about how much they love the platform, reminds me of similar experiences prior to the launch of Google Classroom. I truly believe that if you stay focused on the end user, good things will come. And we are, as Kiddom is now present in 70% of US school districtsand we are just getting started. By focusing on key pieces of teaching and learning such as standards-based grading and reporting, understanding content efficacy and utilization, simplifying collaboration, and enhancing parent engagement, Kiddom has built an incredible set of products loved by and advocated for by teachers across the country. Teachers will always be at our core, as we continue to solve pain points they face every day in and out of the classroom.
As the roles of people in K12 evolve, so do the tools they use. In this case, the systems that have managed the process of learning in school. Kiddom isn’t just iterating on the monolithic LMS, but rather rethinking from the ground up what a true K12 operating system could offer. Our school operating system enables educators to collaborate and individualize instruction more effectively. Classrooms gain access to a library of teaching resources and curriculum development tools. Beautiful, actionable reports help students, teachers, parents, and administrators monitor progress and take action. Pedagogy and technology work in harmony on Kiddom to help schools unlock their full potential.
To ramp up our Academy product for school and district administrators, we’ve nearly doubled the size of the company this year, to set up for a strong 2nd half of 2018. Having been at Kiddom for six weeks, and with the school year winding down, my excitement about our impact continues to grow by the day. Our Academy pilot kit also launches this week, which will help administrators learn what many of their teachers have become so excited about. As Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.” Sounds like the definition of lifetime learning to me. Come join us on this journey to reshape teaching and learning with our new K12 OS!